If COVID-19 Symptoms Arise, Don’t Wait to Get Tested

Video by County News Center

A recent analysis of San Diego County data revealed that San Diegans are waiting an average of 3.5 days after symptoms develop before they get a COVID-19 test.

The delay could result in further COVID-19 exposures, especially if people do not isolate themselves from others.

“People should get tested immediately after they start feeling sick,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “They should also isolate themselves to avoid exposing those around them.”

Because there is substantial spread of COVID-19 in the community, people who start feeling sick should assume it’s because of the novel coronavirus, get tested right away and isolate themselves from other people, including their families.

People with COVID-19 can have no symptoms, mild symptoms, or severe illness. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

“People experiencing symptoms should be in isolation while they wait for their test results, and, if they are positive, they should continue to be away from others,” Wooten said. “If you have severe symptoms, like difficulty breathing, contact your doctor immediately.”

a young woman is being tested for coronavirus while inside her car
County public health nurse administers a COVID-19 test.

People who test positive should remain in isolation until 10 days after onset of symptoms and no fever for at least 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications and improvement of other symptoms.

Anyone who is sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available). Close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 should quarantine themselves for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.

For people who are not able to isolate or quarantine themselves at home, the County has public health rooms for the public.

The County operates about 40 COVID-19 testing sites and most do not require an appointment. To find a no-appointment site near you, or to make an appointment, visit or call 2-1-1. You can view the testing sites by day here.

State Metrics:

  • The state issued its weekly assessment of risk levels yesterday, and San Diego County remains in Tier 2, also referred to as the Red Tier.
  • San Diego’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.8 per 100,000 residents, up from 6.5 in the previous assessment. Limit for Tier 2 is 7.0.
  • The testing positivity percentage is 3.0%, down from 3.5% last week, placing it in Tier 3 or the Orange Tier.
  • The state’s health equity metric looks at the testing positivity for areas with the lowest healthy conditions. This metric does not move counties to more restrictive tiers but is required to advance.
  • The County’s health equity testing positivity percentage is 5.7, down from the 6.2 percent reported Oct. 6.
  • The California Department of Public Health will assess counties on a weekly basis, with the next report scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Community Setting Outbreaks:

  • Four new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 13: two in businesses, one in a restaurant and one in a restaurant/bar.
  • In the past seven days (Oct. 7 through Oct. 13), 47 community outbreaks were confirmed.
  • The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.
  • A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.


  • 9,662 tests were reported to the County on Oct. 13, and the percentage of new laboratory-confirmed cases was 3%.
  • The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 3.0%. Target is less than 8.0%.
  • The 7-day, daily average of tests is 10,472.
  • People with and without symptoms who are at higher risk for COVID-19 should be tested. Health care and essential workers should also get a test, as well as people who had close contact to a positive case or live in communities that are being highly impacted.


  • 303 new cases were confirmed among San Diego County residents on Oct. 13. The region’s total is now 51,327.
  • 3,710 or 7.2% of all cases have required hospitalization.
  • 858 or 1.7% of all cases and 23.1% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.


  • Four new COVID-19 deaths were reported in San Diego County on Oct. 13. The region’s total is now 844.
  • Four women died between Oct. 8 and Oct. 12, and their ages ranged from late 50s to late 80s.
  • All had underlying medical conditions.

More Information:

The more detailed data summaries found on the County’s website will be updated around 5 p.m. today.





José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact